Pet spending expected to total $99 billion in 2020


Stuck at home during a pandemic with that adorable dog at your feet and a world of dog treats and toys just a mouse click away, it’s no wonder U.S. pet spending is expect to reach $99 billion this year.

Just three years ago, pet spending totaled $90.5 billion. That’s an increase of 9.4 percent.

Food and treats top 2019 and 2020 spending

When pet spending is broken down by category, Americans spent the most on food and treats for their pets in 2019 — a total of $36.9 billion. Veterinary care and products came second at $29.3 billion. Supplies, over-the-counter medicines and the purchases of live animals such as fish and other types of pets totaled $19.2 billion. Services, such as dog boarding, grooming, insurance, training, pet sitting and walking and other non-veterinary care totaled in $10.3 billion.

Spending in 2020 is estimated to follow a similar pattern. Spending on food and treats is expected to increase to $38.4 billion, up 4.1 percent. Veterinary care and products are expected to total $30.2 billion, an 3.1 percent increase. Nonmedical services such as boarding, grooming, training and pet sitting are expected to go up nearly 4 percent to $10.7 billion.

One thing to remember is that these estimates were released in February and the coronavirus pandemic turned much of daily life upside down. In February 2021 when actual pet spending statistics for 2020 are release they are likely to be much different than the estimates.

You control your spending

These are, of course, big totals reflecting what all Americans are spending on their pets.

What you spend on your dog can vary greatly. Some experts estimate that the annual cost of owning a dog ranges from about $1,400 to $4,300. The variation largely depends on the dog’s size, breed, age and health.

But many expenses are in your control. Toys, dog clothes, multiple beds, extra leashes and harnesses are discretionary expenses that you can indulge in or limit depending on your budget and lifestyle.

With more people working at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, some expenses of owning a dog such as day care and dog walking can be saved because you’re working from home.

There are expenses such as vet bills and unexpected illnesses that you do need to prepare for. This is especially so if you have an older dog.

Pet spending tips

Here are some ways to save money when you own a dog.

  • Adopt, don’t shop.  Getting a dog from a local rescue organization is going to be less expensive than getting a dog from a breeder. If you have your heart set on a particular breed of dog, by all means go to a breeder. But be sure that you are going to a reliable breeder who properly cares for dogs and puppies and socializes them well.
  • Small dogs are less expensive than big dogs. Bigger dogs eat more. Food and treats are the biggest single category of dog spending, according to the APPA. You can dole out treats, but you want to be sure your dog has food for a long and healthy life.
  • Plan for veterinary expenses. Routine annual veterinary care might cost between $200 to $400 for dogs. This includes routine visits, shots and treatment for unexpected accidents, injuries or ailments. But emergency treatment can quickly run $1,000 or more depending on the seriousness of the situation.
  • Get pet insurance — but do your research carefully. Annual premiums for pet insurance vary widely depending on a dog’s age, breed and coverage required. Some policies cover emergencies and some only basic care. Many pet owners complain that they have to pay for vet care before services are provided, only to find out after the fact that an insurer won’t pay. This is definitely a “buyer beware” cost. You can get some help with comparisons at
  • Grooming. The dog you choose in the first place makes a huge difference in what you’ll pay for grooming. A short-haired dog isn’t going to need the precision grooming of breeds like poodles or certain kinds of terriers like Yorkies or Schnauzers. Many dogs can be bathed and brushed at home. With the coronavirus pandemic, many owners are learning how to groom their dogs themselves. Don’t skimp on grooming that improves a dog’s health like claw-clipping and dental care. Youtube.come is another source of grooming information.
  • Toys. Be choosy about the toys you buy. Some dogs love to fetch; others can’t be bothered. Some dogs like toys that squeak; others like toys to chew. Know your dog and don’t buy toys that he ignores. Keep in mind that you can also make toys for your dog such as braided pieces of blankets or towels.

While any dog you bring home will be pulling money from your wallet, most dog owners agree that having a dog in your life is . . . well, priceless.